The Eiffel Tower and Tokyo Tower : Falling in love with the original and the “inspired”

“Good artists copy, great artists steal” was Picasso’s saying which Steve Jobs used when asked if he copied the idea of mouse and a personal computer from Xerox. He explained that “Ultimately, it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing.”

Then on we had the Google/Samsung vs Apple battle in terms of whether the devices were inspirations from the iPhone or were copies. Similarly for the iconic Eiffel Tower, there are many “copied” and “inspired” designs across the world and the Tokyo Tower in Japan’s capital is one such iconic inspiration which I have adored over the years. I have tried to photograph contextual similarity and not architectural similarity and hope the photo story is interesting for you. Here we go…
Tokyo Tower and Eiffel Tower in ParisI am a citizen of Tokyo and am probably  biased in my thinking and believe that Tokyo Tower is more of an inspiration than a copy since the context, period and background when they were built is very different. Both towers are in central location of their respective cities and traffic tends to be heavy. Took some traffic trails near both the towers in the evening.
Traffic trails Tokyo Tower and Eiffel TowerThe Eiffel Tower was built to celebrate 100 years of the French Revolution in 1889 while Japan’s postwar boom in the 1950s, they wanted a monument to symbolize Japan’s ascendancy as a global economic powerhouse, completed in 1958 and built from steel pieces  from the battle tanks of the US left back from the World War II!!! Today both the towers have become the face of the respective cities they are built in.

Just for the records sake, I am writing this blog sitting in Paris at night in my hotel opposite the Eiffel Tower on a business visit. I see it as I write this… a panoramic view, similar to the Tokyo Tower taken at Shiba Koen Garden.
Panorama Tokyo Tower and Eiffel TowerChange meets resistance and Eiffel Tower had its share of resistance too.

We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years … we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal.

Since Tokyo Tower came up after the commercial success of the Eiffel Tower and was primarily to serve as a communications tower it was not subject to this type of resistance. To be very honest, I can empathize with the artists thinking of these structures as monstrous, go near them and they really are. See below
Closeup up massiveness of Tokyo Tower and Eiffel TowerThe location of both the towers are central locations of the respective cities and have tours where you can visit the top of the towers with the exception that Eiffel has stairs for climbing too! while Tokyo Tower only has an elevator with no stair access. Both are illuminated at night with the orange colors although Tokyo Tower has many variations depending on events and overall light up variations including character display on the tower a standard attraction. Fireworks are held near Eiffel Tower on new year, while Tokyo Tower does not have fireworks. Neighborhood wards have summer festivals called Hanabi, firework display which can be contrasted on the Tokyo Tower and observed from a distance. Contrasted the towers with other attractions in the towns. Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo and Egypt’s Luxor Obelisk with the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Traffic trails Tokyo Tower and Eiffel TowerBoth towers look awesome from a distance too, in case of Paris, unfortunately the Eiffel feels lonely since it is the lone tall structure while Tokyo Tower got the Roppongi Hills skyscraper in 2004 and Tokyo Skytree in 2012 to keep company. The skyscraper district of Paris is quite at a distance and cannot be contrasted with a composition with the tower. Since Tokyo Tower is approximately half in height of Tokyo Skytree we went to Ebisu which is twice the distance from Skytree as it is from Tokyo Tower. Meaning, by theory of Appolonius Circle both towers should appear of same height. How’s that for some geometric context to try out if you are in Tokyo
Cityscape panorama Tokyo Tower and Eiffel TowerJapan implies Cherry blossoms, but I was surprised to see Cherry blossoms nearby the Eiffel Tower Garden too!!!! Cultures share and if Tokyo Tower inspiration comes from Eiffel so is the Cherry blossom inspiration from Japan evident in France. Interesting.
Sakura, Cherry blossoms at Tokyo Tower and Eiffel TowerThe area around Tokyo Tower is quite oriental with the Zojoji tTemple, while the fountains at Paris’s Eiffel Tower provide the contrast. Both beautiful in their respective backdrops.
Oriental Tokyo Tower, Western beauty Eiffel TowerThe beauty of Eiffel Tower is amplified with the surrounding location. It is on the banks of a river where cruises pass by leaving a trail of light in my camera. On the other hand, Tokyo Tower does not have water mass around it and we had to go to the Rainbow Bridge from where we could take come trails of ships passing by in the Tokyo Bay area.
Ship trails of Eiffel Tower and Tokyo Tower Both, the original and the inspired have a unique identity of their own and are serving their cities in their own way. Both have been able to claim the emotional space of the citizens in the cities where they are built. Although Tokyo Tower is having competition from the Tokyo Skytree the geometric beauty is still its main differentiation. Eiffel on the other hand has no local competition and stands as one of the most popular tourism spot continuing to serve Paris, although Tokyo Tower with over 150 million visitors is not one to be left behind either. Enough of reflections on the two towers? See some real reflections of the two towers. Eiffel in the waters around and Tokyo Tower in a Family Mart Convenience Store glass window.
Reflections of Tokyo Tower and Eiffel TowerOn a passing note, Some iPhone goodies with a Eiffel Tower touch.
Eiffel Tower Case iPhone 6/6S (

Eiffel Tower iPhone 6/6S Case (


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  3. Reply

    Indeed, its not possible to ignore the architectural and the contextual similarities. You took wonderful photos to show that in an impressive way. Great!!

  4. Mellie Mel


    You can indeed climb the stairs in Tokyo Tower. I know somebody who did it last week.

  5. Piet


    Scrap metal pieces from US tanks were indeed used for the construction of the Tokyo tower, but these were from the Korean war, not WW2 (US never fought on the Japanese mainland).

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